Ficus, oh ficus

I have a complex relationship with my ficus tree: it's the air conditioner for the house, holds up the tree house and shades half the garden, but it sheds a huge amount. I compost everything except the ficus leaves, which seem to be toxic to seedlings.Is there a toxin in ficus that causes the problem and is there a composting method to make ficus leaves reusable?

Comments for Ficus, oh ficus

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 17, 2017
Rating
starstarstarstarstar

by: Caroline

Dear Anonymous

Thank you for your question. Some preliminary searches are throwing up interesting information. The latex in some species of Ficus is a mild poison and irritant to mammals. But I found nothing on its toxicity to plants, and assume there may be a problem there. Apparently it is produced in separate cells to the plant's sap. From agricultural research on latex harvesting, it appears to be unstable when fresh, and coagulates easily, but mixed with ammonia, it remains stable as a liquid.

http://rubberchemtechnol.org/doi/abs/10.5254/1.3546400?code=rdiv-site

Mixing fresh leaves with urine may be a bad idea, creating a stable liquid irritant in the compost. Is your tree a Ficus elastica by any chance ? They are used in some parts of the world for latex production. If the leaves you are composting are dry, then the latex in them may have coagulated already, and hardened, so you you are adding unwittingly, an inert water proof substance to your compost, basically rubber. It may break down into smaller particles, but in its sheer quantities, it could not only irritate other plant tissues, but suffocate either the soil life or the plants. These are wild guesses as to the cause of your problem. The solution may be dilution, reducing the percentage of ficus detritus in the compost. Other bloggers on composting Ficus

http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=38814

http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=23508.0

did not unfortunately answer our question. There is the suggestion that under a Ficus tree, the shade is so dense, and the shallow root system so prolific and dense, that other plants struggle to grow, though this information may not serve you.

I will let you know if I have any more information or ideas
sincerely
Caroline

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Are you a home gardener ?.

Recent Articles

  1. one of my little acorn's family

    Jun 23, 17 01:58 AM

    I found what I'm identifying as a small cork oak grove in a local park, and so I'm posting a picture of the trees, the bark and the leaf. This is not the

    Read More

  2. more on acorn germination results

    Jun 22, 17 07:00 AM

    More pictures, and perhaps an explanation for this snap happy mood ? The empty empty six-packs, the desolate litre pots and then... does any other gardener

    Read More

  3. more on acorns

    Jun 22, 17 06:54 AM

    Just some pictures of the larger, transplanted oak seedlings, a germinating acorn, showing how much earlier the root or radicle emerges than the shoot,

    Read More

BLUE GARDEN FLOWER ALBUM 

HOW TO CONTROL FRUITFLIES

How to make good Compost.

HOW TO MAKE GOOD COMPOST